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Genius?

There’s a theory of movie-making, espoused (if not invented) by t.v. and film critic Chris Ryan, that if you “put dope actors in your movie,” your movie will be good.

That seems to be the running theory behind Genius, out this summer, which follows the story of American Southern writer Thomas Wolfe and his connections with New Yorker Maxwell Perkins, the publisher. The cast includes Colin Firth (Maxwell Perkins); Jude Law (Thomas Wolfe); Nicole Kidman (Aline Bernstein); Guy Pearce (F. Scott Fitzgerald); and Laura Linney (Louise Saunders).

While this theory that good actors can compensate for a mediocre script often works just dandy (see all three—sorry, four—Hunger Games movies), that doesn’t seem to be the case with Genius. It’s been dubbed “hammily acted” (The Guardian), “unappealingly lit” (The Daily Telegraph), “like CPR on a lifeless body” (The Hollywood Reporter), and said to posses “all the life of a flower pressed between Look Homeward Angel’s pages eighty-seven years ago” (Variety).

Not exactly ringing endorsements, especially given the movie’s 49 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Still, those interested in Asheville’s favorite son, Thomas Wolfe, and his editor Perkins, who also edited F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway, might stomach the bad lighting and wretched acting to find something of value.

This blogger couldn’t actually find any theaters currently showing the movie, so viewers might do better to simply pre-order the DVD, or wait for Netflix.

Sally Buckner Receives The Order of the Long Leaf Pine

Shelby Stephenson and Sally Buckner

Shelby Stephenson and Sally Buckner

This Thursday, August 11, Sally Buckner will be honored with The Order of the Long Leaf Pine.

Among the most prestigious awards conferred by the Governor of North Carolina is The Order of the Long Leaf Pine. It is awarded to persons for exemplary service to the State of North Carolina and their communities that is above and beyond the call of duty and which has made a significant impact and strengthened North Carolina.

In her long career, Sally Bucker taught at every level from kindergarten through graduate school, and retired after twenty-eight years on the faculty at Peace College. A former journalist, she published poetry, plays, nonfiction, and short stories in many journals and anthologies. In 1991, she was the editor of Our Words, Our Ways, an anthology of literature designed to accompany eighth-grade studies of state history. Her first collection of poems, Strawberry Harvest, was published by St. Andrews Press in 1996. In 1999, she was the editor of Word and Witness: 100 Years of NC Poetry, published under the auspices of the NC Poetry Society by Carolina Academic Press.

Other recipients of the Order of the Long Leaf Pine include poet Anthony S. Abbott (1992), NC Literary Hall of Fame inductee Kathryn Stripling Byer (2010), and author, journalist, and public relations leader Joe Epley (2004). For a complete list of recipients, click here.

The ceremony takes place on Thursday, August 11, at 4:00 pm at the Glenaire Retirement Community auditorium, 4000 Glenaire Circle, in Cary. This event is free and open to the public.

Buckner will be honored by NC Literary Hall of Fame inductee and current NC poet laureate Shelby Stephenson. NC playwright June Guralnick and the NC Arts Council’s Literature and Theater Director David Potorti will make remarks.

For more information, contact David Potorti at 919-807-6512.

WCPSS Hall of Fame to Induct Nancy Olson

Quail Ridge BooksNancy Olson, founder of Quail Ridge Books & Music in Raleigh, passed away in March. On Wednesday, October 12, Nancy will be inducted into the Wake County Public School System Hall of Fame.

Credited with “sparking a literacy renaissance in North Carolina,” Nancy founded QRB in 1984. The store hosts countless literary events, book clubs, discussions, and town hall meetings and has become a vital part of North Carolina’s cultural landscape. Nancy was Publisher’s Weekly 2001 Bookseller of the Year.

The WCPSS Hall of Fame is a program of Wake Education Partnership, a non-profit committed to “improving public education and advocating for excellent educational opportunities for all students.” The Hall of Fame honors outstanding educators, alumni, and community leaders who through their lives have either deeply impacted the Wake County school system or, as an alumnus, dramatically added to the quality of life in this city, state, or nation.

Nancy will be inducted along with five others, including Orage Quarles III, former president and publisher of The News & Observer in Raleigh.

QRB recently moved to a new location at North Hill, 4209-100 Lassiter Mill Road. Click here for directions and tips on parking.

For tributes to Nancy Olson, including a video of her memorial service, click here.

Boost in Arts Funding Benefits all 100 NC Counties

From our friends at the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources:

Raleigh—The new budget signed by Governor Pat McCrory will allow the North Carolina Arts Council to support an extensive arts infrastructure across North Carolina, including arts programs in all 100 counties funded through the Grassroots Arts Program, with more than $7.1 million in grants.

“This funding will further support the arts, which are a catalyst for economic development, tourism and overall quality of life in North Carolina,” said Governor McCrory. “The work of local arts councils helps make North Carolina global destination where people want to live, work and visit.”

In fiscal year 2016 -17, N.C. Arts Council grants will support more than 340 arts organizations, individuals, schools, and other nonprofit groups that sponsor arts programs or arts-driven economic development projects. Grant funds come from both legislative appropriation and the National Endowment for the Arts.

“Arts have sparked economic development across the state,” said Natural and Cultural Resources Secretary Susan Kluttz. “These grants mean more jobs and a better quality of life.”

The budget invests an additional $500,000 in the Grassroots Arts Program. Nationally recognized for its per capita distribution formula that allows local decision-making on arts programming, the Grassroots funds support the sustainability of a network of local arts councils across the state.

“For nearly 50 years the North Carolina Arts Council has invested in artists and arts organizations,” said Wayne Martin, Executive Director of the NC Arts Council. “The result is a diverse arts infrastructure that is one of the most extensive in our nation, reaching into all 100 counties of the state.”

The NC Arts Council will continue to invest in the SmART Initiative, a program that uses the arts to transform downtowns and fuel economic development. A grant was awarded to support the implementation of a Highway 19E Gateway Art Plan in Burnsville created by Seattle-based artist Jack Mackie in collaboration with a variety of local glass artists and the North Carolina Department of Transportation.

“The SmART Initiative influences business development, inspires downtown revitalization and historic preservation, builds community pride of place and stimulates the growth of more creative businesses,” said Kluttz. “Government and the private sector work together in communities large and small to ensure that North Carolina continues to be a place where businesses want to be, people want to live and visitors want to explore.”

One of the first SmART Initiative programs is the Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park, located along Goldsboro Street in downtown Wilson, which will be officially dedicated next fall. Currently 16 of the 28 restored whirligigs have been installed at the park and there has been more than $20 million in private and public investment generated within a two block radius of the park including brewpubs, residential apartments and restaurants. The City of Wilson has committed $1.29 million to construction.

Funds that support rural communities include several arts in education programs, such as the popular Traditional Arts Programs for Students and Junior Appalachian Musicians, an after-=school program where students receive music instruction taught by traditional string band musicians, Seagrove potters, or African American jazz musicians. cARTwheels, a performing arts touring and residency program that provides in-depth exposure to arts, will take place in 15 venues.

Noteworthy education projects funded this year include expansion of North Carolina Wolf Trap to Rutherford County. The Arts & Science Council (ASC) of Charlotte is a regional site for the nationally acclaimed Wolf Trap Early Leaning Through the Arts Program that brings performing artists into Pre-Kindergarten classes for a seven-week residency. Wolf Trap incorporates the arts into the classroom with a curriculum that is aligned with Common Core State Standards for Pre-K. The Rutherford County School District is collaborating with the ASC on this project as an effort to grow the program throughout the region.

Grant awards are recommended by panels of civic leaders and arts experts based on artistic merit, benefit of the project to the state’s citizens, and the applicant’s organizational strength and capacity. Recommendations are reviewed by the North Carolina Arts Council Board and forwarded to Secretary Susan Kluttz for final approval.

Click here for a listing of investments by county.

For more information about the NC Arts Council visit www.NCArts.org.

About the North Carolina Arts Council
North Carolina has long been recognized for rich traditions in crafts, literature, historical drama and music. Since 1967 the N.C. Arts Council has worked to strengthen North Carolina’s creativity, invention and prosperity through its four core functions: creating a strong and efficient arts infrastructure across North Carolina; planning and implementing economic development initiatives; educating our young people; and researching the impact of the arts on our state: www.NCArts.org.

About the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources
The NC Department of Natural and Cultural Resources (NCDNCR) is the state agency with a vision to be the leader in using the state’s natural and cultural resources to build the social, cultural, educational and economic future of North Carolina. Led by Secretary Susan Kluttz, NCDNCR’s mission is to improve the quality of life in our state by creating opportunities to
experience excellence in the arts, history, libraries and nature in North Carolina by stimulating learning, inspiring creativity, preserving the state’s history, conserving the state’s natural heritage, encouraging recreation and cultural tourism, and promoting economic development.

NCDNCR includes 27 historic sites, seven history museums, two art museums, two science museums, three aquariums and Jennette’s Pier, 39 state parks and recreation areas, the N.C. Zoo, the nation’s first state-supported Symphony Orchestra, the State Library, the State Archives, the N.C. Arts Council, State Preservation Office and the Office of State Archaeology, along with the Division of Land and Water Stewardship. For more information, please call (919) 807-7300 or visit www.ncdcr.gov.

For the Advancement of Indigenous Cultures

Throughout the country, Native organizations face the challenge of preserving the culture and stories of the indigenous communities they’ve been created to serve. None more so than the Cherokee, whose Trail of Tears began in Western North Carolina. The pressures these Native populations face, both in terms of economics and culture, are very real.

The Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers and Storytellers seeks to preserve the stories of indigenous cultures, provide mentors to the next generation of storytellers, and actively promote education and recognition. Their mission?

To support the work and words of Native and Indigenous people in order to strengthen the impact of their voices in asserting community sovereignty, individual self-determination, traditional and cultural values, and creative expression.

The Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers and Storytellers was founded in 1992 by Dr. Lee Francis III. The organization focuses on four core values:

  • Story: The center of all our work is story. It is what sustained our people through the darkest times. We honor and celebrate the stories in all we do.
  • Community: As an Indigenous organization, we do not act on our own but always as a community; seeking to connect and collaborate
  • Quality: We seek to ensure the highest quality of work produced by our members and the organization itself
  • Generosity: Our work is done with a good spirit and a good heart that gives more than it receives.
  • Authenticity: Our work and words will look to find the most authentic and genuine way to represent Native and Indigenous communities.

Projects include a Native Youth Literacy Project that “focuses on synthesizing Indigenous and Western knowledge and leads to stronger student accomplishments in reading, writing, and communicating.” This program looks to draw from traditional Native values and strengths to help students with reading and writing.

The WC Reads program is an effort to get free comic books into the hands of Native students. And their newest program is Electric Tellings, where they hope to create an online repository and digital radio station for the incredible stories of the indigenous community.

Founded with the belief that “Western education systems find no value in models that do not serve to reinforce the dominant hegemony,” the Story Keepers Project seeks to “empower Native and Indigenous youth through deep cultural and traditional connections to become guides and guardians of their communities’ traditional values and ways of being as communicated through traditional and contemporary stories,” among other goals. This program can be hosted in schools.

Membership is an extremely reasonable $40 a year (cheaper if you qualify for certain categories). This gives you discounts on events and gatherings, access to members-only pages, and a subscription to Native Realities, their official journal.

To learn more about the Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers and Storytellers, click here.

Let the NC Literary Map Be Your Guide

If you’ve been to a Network conference in the past few years, then you’ve likely chatted with a representative from the North Carolina Literary Map. They’ve been an exciting and constant presence in our exhibit hall since their founding in 2010. In the last six years, they’ve developed a unique program that has positioned them as stewards of North Carolina’s literary heritage and an irreplaceable piece of our state’s literary, well, map.

The mission of the North Carolina Literary Map is to highlight the literary heritage of the state by connecting the lives and creative work of authors to real (and imaginary) geographic locations. Through the development of a searchable and browseable data-driven online map, users are able to access a database, learning tools, and cultural resources, to deepen their understanding of specific authors as well as the cultural space that shaped these literary works.

Here’s how it works. Go to http://library.uncg.edu/dp/nclitmap. (Yes, they need a new URL. It’s shorter than it used to be, though!) Click on “Search by Author.” Enter an author’s last name. “Maron,” say, for 2016 North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame inductee “Margaret Maron.”

This returns one record. Click on her name to bring up the author page for Margaret Maron. Author pages include complete bibliographies with links to the books; awards specific to North Carolina that were won by the author, and you can even click on the name of the county where Margaret is from—Johnston—to see all the other authors associated with Johnston County.

The selection criteria of the North Carolina Literary Map are broad and inclusive. The criteria focuses on works written about North Carolina and authors who were born in North Carolina, who currently live or have lived in North Carolina, who have written about North Carolina, or who have made a significant contribution to the North Carolina’s literary landscape. The author must have at least one publication cataloged by the Library of Congress. At this time, the Map includes only works that have a physical equivalent and does not include literary articles, self-publishing houses, works published by vanity presses, or works only available from an individual website.

The website also offers a list (with links) of North-Carolina based literary magazines; lesson plans for schoolteachers; and the ability to search by genre or book, as well as browse North Carolina authors by specific criteria. Visitors can search for books that take place in North Carolina towns, including the fictional Falls, NC, made famous by NC Literary Hall of Fame inductee Allan Gurganus! Hopefully Cotton Grove, where Margaret Maron’s Bootlegger’s Daughter series takes place, will be added soon.

The more time one spends with the website, the more gems reveal themselves. For example, NC Literary Hall of Fame inductee Randall Jarrell’s author page links to his letters.

The NC Literary Map is a joint program of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro University Libraries; the Institute of Museum and Library Services; and the State Library of North Carolina.

John G. Hartness Wins Manly Wade Wellman Award

John G. Hartness at the NCWN 2014 Call Conference (© Sylvia Freeman)

John G. Hartness at the NCWN 2014 Fall Conference (© Sylvia Freeman)

Last week we listed the nominees for the 2016 Manly Wade Wellman Award, and in a bit of prescience, displayed the cover of John G. Hartness’ Raising Hell, for no good reason other than we like John and thought his cover looked pretty cool.

We could have just as easily featured a different front cover—but we’re glad we didn’t! Because wouldn’t ‘ya know it? John won!

The awards ceremony was held Saturday night, July 18, 2016, as part of the ConGregate 2016 convention at the Radisson Hotel High Point. Raising Hell was voted the winner from an initial list of over 100 titles. The Manly Wade Wellman Award is sponsored by the The North Carolina Speculative Fiction Foundation.

Raising Hell is the first novella in the Quincy Harker, Demon Hunter Series published by Falstaff Books.  In the vein of Constantine and Supernatural, this dark fantasy pits a slightly-more-than-ordinary hero and a host of sidekicks and cohorts against forces bent on setting loose a great evil upon the world, starting right in Harker’s home town of Charlotte. Raising Hell is available digitally wherever e-books are sold, and in print as part of the collected Quincy Harker: Year One collection. Audiobooks are available on Audible.

The Manly Wade Wellman Award for North Carolina Science Fiction and Fantasy covers science fiction and fantasy novels published the previous year by North Carolina authors. Founded in 2013, the award is voted on by the combined membership of North Carolina science fiction and fantasy conventions (illogiCon, ConCarolinas, ConTemporal, and Con-Gregate).

The award is named after North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame inductee Manly Wade Wellman, who set his fantasy and horror stories in the Appalachian Mountains, drawing on folklore from that region. Perhaps his best-known series is the fantastic Silver John, which features a virtuous folk-ballad-singing young hero who battles supernatural forces of evil in the North Carolina mountains, defending the innocent and timid. Wellman generously extended aid to emerging writers, teaching classes in creative writing in the Evening College of the University of North Carolina and guiding many of his students to fruitful careers. He was awarded the North Carolina Award for Literature in 1978.

Falstaff Books is a digital and print publishing company based in Charlotte dedicated to bringing to life the best in fantasy, science fiction, horror, mystery, and dramatic literature. Falstaff Books exists to discover new voices and nurture them to success.

Book #5 in the Quincy Harker series, Heaven Sent, is scheduled for release on July 29. Man in Black, the sixth book in Hartness’ Black Knight Chronicles series of urban fantasy novels, will hit stores August 15.

John G. Hartness is a comedic fantasy and horror author living in Charlotte with his wife Suzy and a very spoiled and demanding cat. He is a graduate of Winthrop University, a past President of the Charlotte Writers’ Club, and his novel Paint It Black was named “Best Horror Novel” in 2014 by the Electronic Publishing Industry Coalition. His comic timing can be heard bi-weekly on the Authors & Dragons role-playing podcast.

John is the author of the EPIC-Award-winning series The Black Knight Chronicles from Bell Bridge Books, the Bubba the Monster Hunter comedy/horror series, the Quincy Harker, Demon Hunter novella series, and the creator and co-editor of the Big Bad anthology series, among other projects. John is a member of the International Thriller Writers (ITW), Horror Writers Association (HWA), and the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA).

 

A Music for the Prose Trifecta

At the North Carolina Writers’ Network, we live to help writers improve their craft, find outlets for their work, and promote those works once they’re released into the world. So we couldn’t be happier to announce that all three writers chosen for the first-ever “Contemporary Series” produced by Music for the Prose are longtime friends of the Network!

Click here to listen to the following:

  • “The Call” by Robert Golden
  • “The Girls” by Robert Rubin
  • “Dance Interrupted” by Dana Stone

Each production is paired with a short segment that provides background on the chosen piece.

In Music for the Prose, poetry or prose is read aloud over an improvised musical score. Originally, the series focused on classical works by Shakespeare and canonical poets such as Walt Whitman. The “Contemporary Series” represents a new step for the podcast.

“I have listened to the podcast twice (more to come!) and am very impressed by the music and the dramatic interpretation,” wrote Robert Golden in an e-mail. “(The production) revealed qualities in the work that I was only dimly aware of, if that, and I thank you for the time and care you have taken with it.”

When Music for the Prose reached out to us late last year, we were happy to help spread the word about their new initiative. At that time, we asked off-hand if they ever considered accepting submissions from contemporary poets, and to let us know once they did.

This spring, Music for the Prose began accepting submissions for their Contemporary Poetry series, and we let folks know through our weekly Opportunities e-blasts and social media. That all three finalists have North Carolina ties is just icing on the cake.

And if we do so say ourselves, this is a perfect example of what the Network does best: connecting writers, steering those writers toward opportunities, and shouting their successes from the rooftops.

Congratulations to Robert, Robert, and Dana!

Quail Ridge Books Grand Re-Opening!

From our friends at Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh:

Quail Ridge Books has a new home!

Raleigh’s nationally celebrated independent bookstore opens in its new location in the Lassiter District of North Hills on July 23-24 with a two-day party, complete with games, prizes, and special author events.

QRB, recently voted 2016 Best Bookstore in the Triangle by Indy Week readers, will celebrate the grand opening of its new 9,000-square-foot store, just across Lassiter Mill from its temporary “QRB On the Fly” location.

The interior will delight longtime customers and welcome new readers of all ages. The Children’s Section, one of the most popular sections of the store, will inspire and amaze young readers with colors and decor that will bring out creativity and whimsy in visitors. Award-winning children’s author Sheila Turnage visits to give fans the latest news from Tupelo Landing, the NC fictional setting for her beloved Mo & Dale Mysteries.

Store owner Lisa Poole worked closely with Phillips Architecture of Raleigh and designer Molly Simmons of Simmons Design and Consulting to create a space that will welcome the new with style and color while honoring longtime customers, authors and QRB’s founder, Nancy Olson. There will be a special area dedicated to Nancy, who passed away in March. And the QRB staff, known for being friendly, helpful, and knowledgeable, will be on hand to show customers around the new store, and help them find the books and gifts they want.

Quail Ridge Books opened in 1984 in Quail Corners in north Raleigh, then relocated to Ridgewood Shopping Center. The move to North Hills, about five miles away, was announced earlier this year.

Worried about finding parking at this popular new location? Never fear. There is plenty of parking, including handicap parking at the door. Need a guide to other parking places you may like? Check out this video on the Quail Ridge Books YouTube Channel.

Join us for the grand opening events July 23-24, which will feature six prize drawings a day each for kids and adults. Awards include t-shirts, books, and other fun gifts! Craft and book activity stations will be available all day both days. And tattoos. Did we mention the (literary) tattoos?

Kids are invited too. There will be a trivia contest each morning at 10:00 am, and story time on Saturday at 11:00 am with Corduroy the bear and at 3:00 pm with the Cat in the Hat!

Watch our web site, www.quailridgebooks.com, and our Facebook page for updated grand opening activities. The last day at our temporary store, Quail Ridge Books on the Fly, will be July 6. We’ll be in transition July 7-17 and likely closed for part of that. We’ll keep you posted on the QRB Move page on our website.

Find Quail Ridge Books at their new location:

4209-100 Lassiter Mill Rd.
Raleigh, NC 27609
Sarah Goddin, sarah@quailridgebooks.com

Manly Wade Wellman Award Nominees

This weekend, The North Carolina Speculative Fiction Foundation will announce the winner of the 2016 Manly Wade Wellman Award for North Carolina Science Fiction and Fantasy at Con-Gregate, a sci-fi and fantasy convention held in High Point.

The Manly Wade Wellman Award for North Carolina Science Fiction and Fantasy covers science fiction and fantasy novels published the previous year by North Carolina authors. Founded in 2013, the award is voted on by the combined membership of North Carolina science fiction and fantasy conventions (illogiCon, ConCarolinas, ConTemporal, and Con-Gregate).

Here are the nominees:

The award is named after North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame inductee Manly Wade Wellman, who set his fantasy and horror stories in the Appalachian Mountains, drawing on folklore from that region. Perhaps his best-known series is the fantastic Silver John, which features a virtuous folk-ballad-singing young hero who battles supernatural forces of evil in the North Carolina mountains, defending the innocent and timid. Wellman generously extended aid to emerging writers, teaching classes in creative writing in the Evening College of the University of North Carolina and guiding many of his students to fruitful careers. He was awarded the North Carolina Award for Literature in 1978.

The North Carolina Speculative Fiction Foundation exists to promote the writing and reading of speculative fiction in North Carolina and to recognize outstanding achievements in North Carolina science fiction and fantasy. Founded in Durham 2013 by Samuel Montgomery-Blinn, also the founder and publisher of Bull Spec, the foundation currently facilitates only this single program, which has quickly become one of the highest honors a speculative fiction writer in North Carolina can receive.

For more information, visit http://ncsff.org. Sign-up for Bull Spec’s e-newsletter here.